Had a useful walk through our production areas today. And it hit me, just what was I looking for? Where were my eyes going? What was attracting my attention?
The physical setting items are obvious:
- Is the area neat? Is there any material here which should not be here? Is there something missing?
- Are the visual controls operating?
- Is the flow of material obvious, unobstructed, smooth?
But there is more. If we respect people, the human factor must also be present.
- What is the mood? I can only tell if I speak with people, asking open ended questions and listening carefully.
- What are people saying about each other? Teamwork is always key; healthy relationships are a key barometer.
- Does anyone ask me a question? If not, they may feel they can't ask someone "above them". That's a problem. If they do, the nature of their questions tell me more of real concerns.
In short, I must speak briefly and listen carefully to truly grasp the workplace, the place where we create value, "gemba". It's not enough to merely observe.